We hear often about the preaching ministry of Jesus or the healing ministry of Jesus or the discipling ministry of Jesus—and well we should. However, each of these has its beginning in the seeing ministry of Jesus.
How Jesus Saw
The Greek word horao, which is most often translated as see, carries deeper meaning than mere physical sight. It implies perception, discernment, and experience. This one word is used a dizzying 138 times in the Gospel of Matthew alone. Obviously, Matthew sought to capture something about Jesus and his ministry of sight.
In Matthew 4, directly after his season of temptation in the wilderness, the first thing Jesus did in his public ministry was to simply see:
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen (Matt. 4:18).
While that may seem like an unnecessary detail, the Holy Spirit, through Matthew, intended these words for purpose. Fishermen were a dime a dozen by the Sea of Galilee. That would be like saying to a person from Great Britain, “Walking into the stadium, I saw a soccer fan.” Of course he saw fishermen. But Jesus saw these particular fishermen. He perceived them, saw their hearts, and acknowledged their existence in a way that no one else had. He saw them for who they were on the surface, but he also saw far beyond that to the level of their souls. He knew who he intended to make them into and hs seeing changed their sight.
Later, when Jesus was on his itinerant preaching and healing circuit with these same disciples whom he had seen, Matthew tells us the following.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest (Matt. 9:36–38).
In every town and village he entered, Jesus saw the crowds. Yes, he saw them physically, but he also saw them spiritually. He saw their troubled souls and their leaderlessness. He saw their spiritual hunger and their broken condition, and his sight stirred his soul to pray.
In fact, just before this summary statement regarding Jesus’s sight, Matthew shares with us the story of Jesus seeing a woman who was hidden in shame and fear from her chronic bleeding condition. She had a plan to sneak up behind Jesus and merely touch his garment to be healed and then sneak away. But, Jesus, in his compassion, saw her.
Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well” (Matt. 9:22).
Perhaps more powerful than the miraculous stopping of her decades-long bleeding was the reality that Jesus saw her and acknowledged her. In fact, he named her daughter, using it in the same cherished, doting way the ruler spoke of his own physical daughter in the same passage just moments before.
How We See
While subbing in my son’s second grade classroom last week, I experienced a profound moment with the Lord. As it was a Friday, I was tasked with administering a slew of tests. By the third test, some of the children were hitting a scholastic stride, but some were struggling. One of these little girls came up to me in tears later and asked to have lunch with me. She said she was not having a very good day, and my selfish heart—which was craving solitude—melted. We sat and chatted about her water bottle, her vacation, her hair clip, and about twenty other seemingly insignificant things. About fifteen minutes later, she skipped happily off to recess, leaving me with my thoughts.
She simply needed to be seen. Really seen. And known. And in those quiet moments, the Lord reminded me that I was no different. My heart has simply found more sophisticated ways to try to fill that same need to be seen—body image, significant work, approval, and rewards. All of these are my ways to be seen. I had to wipe away tears from eyes as the students came charging back in from recess. I was just like them. We all want to be seen.
Thankfully, we have a seeing Savior. As those seen and known by the living God, we are invited into his ministry of sight.
Having Been Seen, We See
While writing to the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul reminded them that their method of seeing had changed through the gospel:
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer (2 Cor. 5:16).
This seeing looks like the hospice worker who slows down on her rounds to see my mother-in-law’s caregiving fatigue and asks about her flower arrangements, knowing it brings her relief from the harsh realities of debilitating disease, or the counselor who sees his or her client’s scars and creates a safe place to process their pain, or the after-school care worker who sees the last student to be picked up, waiting on his or her parents to come off of a long shift at work as a single parent.
We don’t need a seminary degree or a doctorate in biblical counseling to join our Jesus in the ministry of sight. Each one of us is called to be conformed to the image of Jesus, the One who sees.
Jesus, remind us each today that you see us as no one else does. As those who are seen and loved in Christ, give us eyes to see as you see. Amen.